My Favorite Movies #28 – Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump - PosterForrest Gump


Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Quick synopsis… Forrest Gump, a simpleminded man, finds himself in the middle of nearly every major event of the 1960s and ’70s. Along the way, he makes friends, changes lives and yearns for his childhood sweetheart, Jenny.

  • You know, I’m not certain what it is about this film that makes it so great for me.
  • I mean, of course, Tom Hanks is a brilliant actor.
  • And he is Forrest Gump.
  • Even Winston Groom, the author who wrote the novel upon which this movie is based, gave Hanks his seal of approval upon seeing footage of him as Gump.
  • Aside from the Tom Hanks of it all, maybe it’s the history that draws me in.
  • We watch as this guy, through very little appropriate decision-making of his own, floats around throughout the 1960s and ’70s and just has all of these amazing things dropped into his lap.
  • From the start, we know he lacks the ability to read social cues.
  • I mean, sure, he’s friendly, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • But this woman, who is clearly tired after a long day of work, sits at the bus stop and immediately begins reading her magazine.
  • What does Forrest do? He talks to her.
  • The magazine is the first sign she doesn’t want to interact with this strange man.
  • He offers her a chocolate and she declines, wordlessly.
  • He goes on and on about how comfortable her shoes look and she shuts him down for a third time with, “My feet hurt,” before returning to the article in which she’s so deeply engrossed.
  • Take a hint, Gump!
  • But, I guess if Forrest could read these social cues, then he wouldn’t start telling his life story and we wouldn’t have this amazing movie.
  • Forrest starts off by thinking about his first pair of shoes.
  • First pair? Really?
  • Because by the time he gets these leg braces or, “magic shoes” as Mama calls them, he’s ready to start school.
  • Little Forrest been running around barefoot for the first seven years of his life?
  • As soon as Forrest introduces us to Jenny, we see the vast differences in their lives.
  • Forrest is raised by a single mother who loves him dearly and does everything in her power to help him understand the world around him.
  • Jenny is raised by a single father who is implied to have sexually abused her and any siblings she has.
  • But somehow, the two fit together and become like peas and carrots.
  • I love how proud Forrest is of himself when he tells his not so captive audience of one that he can “run like the wind blows.”
  • And here’s the first instance of good fortune just falling into his lap: right place, right time, he gets a full ride to Alabama playing football.
  • He got to meet JFK when he was named to the All-American Football Team.
  • Meanwhile, Jenny’s attending an all girls college and her path is going in a very different direction than Forrest, despite his undying affection for her and attempts to make sure the two of them stay on the same path.
  • When Jenny sneaks Forrest into her dorm room, this is where I really decide I don’t like her as a person.
  • It’s not because she makes horrible life choices as the movie goes on.
  • It’s because of how she clearly leads Forrest on.
  • He’s the only person in her life who genuinely cares about her and she constantly brushes him aside.
  • And I know, psychologically, it’s because she is incapable of recognizing what genuine love looks like, having spent her youngest years being shown “affection” in the worst possible ways by a man who should have been the first and last line of defense in her life.
  • My name is Aaron and thank you for attending my TED Talk.
  • Anyway, Forrest’s next step is the U.S. Army, which he says is a perfect fit for him.
  • It really is… Because he doesn’t have to think about what he’s doing.
  • He’s shown how to do what he needs to do and then he just has to follow orders.
  • Forrest meets Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, his next best friend.
  • Bubba is obsessed with shrimp.
  • Before being shipped out to Vietnam, Forrest tracks down Jenny where she’s working at a strip club in Memphis.
  • She yells at him for, again, trying to rescue her from the choices she’s made.
  • But he can’t stop wanting to rescue her because he loves her.
  • “You don’t know what love is, Forrest.”
  • I think, of the two of them, Forrest has a much better grasp on the concept of love than Jenny ever has or ever will.
  • Forrest and Bubba are shipped out to join the conflict in Vietnam, introducing us to Lieutenant Dan Taylor, who has a slightly skewed sense of duty.
  • When their platoon is ambushed, they scatter, then Forrest takes it upon himself to save roughly half a dozen of his comrades.
  • Unfortunately he isn’t able to save Bubba.
  • He does save Lieutenant Dan, who is less than grateful.
  • Dan believed his destiny was to die on the battlefield, but in surviving, he lost both his legs.
  • Forrest, while recovering from his own bullet wound, discovers that he is excellent at ping pong, but we’ll come back to that.
  • When he gets back stateside, Forrest is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
  • While in our nation’s capital, he somehow finds himself addressing a huge protest rally about the realities of the war in Vietnam.
  • In the crowd is one Jenny Curran, so they’re reunited once again.
  • Jenny has embraced a hippie lifestyle and is in a relationship with yet another abusive man.
  • Forrest doesn’t take too kindly to this guy when he witnesses him slapping her in the face.
  • But Jenny goes back to the abuser in the end because she doesn’t know a good thing when she has it.
  • Oh, and Forrest gave her his Medal of Honor.
  • Stupid is as stupid does, indeed.
  • When the Army discovers Forrest’s talent for ping pong, he’s sent around to entertain troops with his game play and eventually travels to China to participate in “ping pong diplomacy.”
  • Returning to the U.S., he’s invited on The Dick Cavett Show where he meets John Lennon and gives him the idea for “Imagine.”
  • Outside the television studio, Lieutenant Dan is waiting for him and Forrest winds up spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve with his former commanding officer.
  • But in Forrest’s eyes, Dan will always be his commanding officer.
  • Soon after, Forrest’s time with the army ends and he follows through on a promise he made to Bubba, to obtain a shrimping boat.
  • Lieutenant Dan also follows through on a promise to become Forrest’s first mate.
  • After a hurricane wipes out the shrimping industry, except for Forrest’s boat, they become successful and create the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
  • Maybe you’ve eaten there.
  • Dan finally makes peace with God and with himself and is finally able to thank Forrest for saving his life.
  • Forrest returns home when his mother is diagnosed with cancer, leaving the company in Dan’s hands.
  • After Mama passes away, Dan invests their money in the newly formed Apple Computers, so they don’t have to worry about money anymore. Ever.
  • We get glimpses of Jenny’s life… sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
  • She seems to sober up enough to decide to go back to visit Forrest, spending a good bit of time with him.
  • He proposes, she says no… “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
  • Jenny sneaks into Forrest’s room that night and sleeps with him, then she disappears the next morning.
  • Depressed, Forrest decides to go for a run.
  • And he runs across the country.
  • Several times.
  • When Jenny sees Forrest on the news for his constant running, she decides to get back in touch with him through a letter.
  • This brings us back to Forrest and his bus stop in Savannah, Georgia, where Jenny is currently living.
  • She introduces Forrest to her son, Forrest, Jr.
  • Named for his father, of course.
  • She also drops the bombshell that she is sick… some disease is killing her that doctors just can’t identify.
  • AIDS, obviously.
  • Forrest marries her shortly before she dies.
  • And now Forrest is a single dad.
  • So what’s the lesson to be learned from watching this movie?
  • Just let life happen and great fortune will be dropped into your lap?
  • I don’t know… but I love it.
  • Forrest Gump is endlessly quotable and Tom Hanks earned every bit of the Oscar he won for this role.
  • See it if you haven’t.

Next week come back for one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time which contains the most famous scene ever shot in a deli.

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Movies #28 – Forrest Gump

  1. I think the first time I watched Forrest Gump, I was 11 or so? And I really enjoyed it. My childhood neighbours had just moved out of town so I took me VHS copy with me the next time I went to see them. Or maybe it was on TV? Not sure. Anyway, they were a super religious family. Like SUPER. So there I am watching it with my friend and their siblings (ages ranging from 8-12 I’d guess) and the dad comes home just as Jenny is singing with her guitar all naked and he FLIPS the FLIP out about a naked lady on his TV screen and how could his wife let their children watch this and blah de blah blah. WHOA it was a flip out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! Forrest Gump is my all time favorite movie! In fact, some nights back (for no particular reason) I realized I knew roughly every line of dialogue beginning to end. By reciting the entire movie from heart. Your review was spot on. And yes I have eaten at Bubba Gump. I reviewed it some years back if you wanna check it out: “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: My Top 100 Movies | The Confusing Middle

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